THROUGH THE OLIVE TREES (1994) [Feature]

Iran (MIFF 1995 )
Director: Abbas Kiarostami

Abbas Kirostami returns to the harshly beau­tiful landscape of his last two features, con­structing not so much a third part of a trilogy but rather an alternative view of Life and Nothing More.

Begining with the actor who played the direc­tor in the previous film explaining that he is the only professional actor in this film, we see him interview a score of village girls to find a suitable leading lady. The first indication that 'real' life is going to deflect the course of this movie-within-a-movie comes when Tahereh refuses to wear a peasant dress. Just as the camera crew must work around country roads inaccessible due to post-earthquake construction so too the 'fiction' of the film is compelled to detour around the prior relationships of its two principles.

Before going into production, the young brick­layer Hossein had courted Tahereh and was rejected for being illiterate and not having a house. Taking advantage of the 'co-star' situa­tion he renews his appeal and, ever the pragmat­ic dreamer views the recent earthquake as a great social leveller-he may have always had nothing but now so too does Tahereh's family.

With sublime simplicity Kiarostami wraps his wry and deeply humanist observations of life and survival in intricate convolutions of cine­matic fact and fabncation-in one of the film's tour de force the director has to reshoot a scene five times because Tahereh refuses to employ the term of respect that a traditional Iranian woman would apply to her husband. Through the Olive Trees questions what is real and non-real-behind and infront of the camera-in a rich, rewarding meditation on the nature of love and cinematic illusion.

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